Pixar continue to be as inventive as ever with each new movie. You can almost guarantee that the central story or character is like nothing you have seen before and that they will be able to build an impressive world around the core plot they are trying to convey. Luca is no different.
This time it is riffing on the “mermaid wants to be human trope”, with Luca desperate to see the human world and discovering that he becomes human when he leaves water. This is introduced to him by new friend and human “expert” Alberto, who has been living above the surface and takes our hero Luca under his wing.
The beauty of Pixar is always that the story goes in unexpected ways and heads in unpredictable directions and Luca carries on this tradition. The plot becomes about building a Vespa, with hilarious slapstick results, and then the quest to buy a Vespa. This then introduces the two hiding mermaids to a town who hate mermaids, while they enter a race which will give them the chance to win their prized possession. Introduce plucky young racer Giulia and you have a plot which takes unexpected but very charming turns. You are invested from the start and Pixar deliver a movie with little peril but plenty of heart.
This comes from the likeable characters. Luca is voiced by Room’s Jacob Tremblay and is played with bubbling enthusiasm and charming naivety. Alberto, played by Jack Dylan Grazer, is cocky but clearly hiding his loneliness, which leads to some very well-written and sweet scenes. Giulia is pretty much the only female influence on the movie but is voiced with confidence and authority by Emma Burman. You enjoy watching the trios friendship develop and the film becomes about acceptance, spreading your wings and moving out of your comfort zone.
This being Pixar, that heartfelt message is also coupled with plenty of comedy and cleverly placed scenes. This is, in part, a sports movie, so there are the customary training montages coupled with slapstick moments. A cat makes trouble for the two hiding mermaids while Giulia’s Dad practically steals the movie with his gruff, silent but supportive presence.
Considering Pixar’s track record, Luca doesn’t do anything too revolutionary. In the Pixar pantheon, it won’t be remembered as fondly as some of the heavier hitters and will fall in amongst the other animated movies but this is still great film. It has a simple and effective plot but you can’t help thinking that this feels like a short film with padding and it does struggle with a lack of proper depth at points.
Overall, Luca is another solid animated classic from Pixar. It has a very effective story, full of surprise turns and twists that will misdirect many. There is also a great core message at the centre of the plot which will bring a smile. It lacks the depth of the best of Pixar but is a charming and effective film nonetheless.
Rating – 4
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